SORSOGON CITY, Dec 6 (PIA) – Another outstanding officer in the military service was recognized and conferred by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) with a Military Merit Medal (Interim) for his meritorious and invaluable service to the country’s defense force.
The recipient was Col. Felix J. Castro, Jr. who served as the Commander of the 903rd Infantry (Fight and Defend) Brigade, 9th Infantry (SPEAR) Division, Philippine Army from January 17, 2011 to November 8, 2012.
The awarding of medal was pursuant to paragraph 1-6l, Section II Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulations G 131-053 dated 01 July 1986. Said medal is awarded to a military official for heroic achievement or meritorious service during, or in support of military action against an enemy.
Imbued with deep sense of responsibility, outstanding leadership, professional competence and managerial acumen, Col. Castro in his term as 903rd Brigade Commander, ably supervised the successful conduct of the 23 Brigade-size Operations, 62 Battalion-size operations, 97 Company-size operations and 12,026 Small Unit Operations.
These operations resulted to the neutralization of 43 NPA personalities (23 killed, 10 wounded, 9 captured and 11 surrendered) and gained 106 firearms (60 high powered/46 low powered), although many of these are outside the focus area of the brigade. The recovered firearms include: one Cal .30 LMG, nine M16, nine 653, two AK47, and one M14, among others. Sixty Seven (67) improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were also recovered.
Among the more significant operational accomplishments of the Brigade under Col Castro’s leadership include the death in an encounter of Andres Baja Despi @ Tisoy, the vice CO of SDG, FC79, Komprob Sorsogon; the arrest of Vanjie Herrero @ Vivian, Execom member of Komprob Masbate; the death in another encounter of Luis Gonzaga @ JP- CO of SPP, Ind KSPN, Komprob Masbate; the capture of CTL Felix MARCAIDA @MEGS/BOY/MIGO presently Execom Member, KomProb Sorsogon, BRPC PSRL 4th quarter CY 2011 (the 3rd person of KomProb Sorsogon, BRPC; former Secretary of Komprob Sorsogon, BRPC year 2008, PSRL 4th quarter CY 2009; former Secretary of LArangan 3, KomProb Sorsogon.
In the absence of allocation for additional Civilian Active Auxiliaries (CAAs), the establishment of the Barangay Defense System (BDS) has been initiated to act as a holding organization in the cleared barangays. This has been proven effective as the NPAs find difficulty in recovering lost areas.
The Brigade conducted 141 occasions of Civil Military Operations which targeted 406 barangays with a total of 268,188 beneficiaries which paved way to the good relationship of the unit with the populace. The Brigade focus area is Barangay Pandan in Castilla, Sorsogon which used to be influenced by NPA’s before the area was cleared in 2009.
The “Tarabangan sa Brgy Pandan” Project started with the construction of a two-classroom building sponsored by ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. Sagip Kapamilya for Pandan High School. Other projects soon followed after the initiative of ABS-CBN: one classroom building funded by Cong Escudero; another classroom building funded by DepEd; two- classroom (2 storey) funded by DepEd; five road improvement projects programmed for next year; ongoing cementing of the irrigation canal (P30M) funded by DA; six months feeding program by ABS-CBN; planned introduction of abaca growing by FIDA, and Mangrove Plantation at Sibago, Donsol, Sorsogon.
Another two-classroom building sponsored by Sagip Kapamilya is now being constructed by 9IB and 565th Engr Bn in Brgy Cabancalan, Aroroy, Masbate (our second focus area). Two scholarship slots were also given by ABS-CBN aside from the feeding program. The Brigade also had six Bayanihan Iskolars sponsored by ABS-CBN and the Lewis College in Sorsogon City.
Col Castro and his men have been active in the programs of PAMANA. The two provinces in its area have received funds for development-Sorsogon: P36M (seven focus municipalities) and Masbate: P50M (three focus municipalities).
The Brigade had enhanced intensive and extensive coverage through its intelligence networks with 591 informants that collected positive information.
On training, the unit successfully conducted a total of 20 In-House Trainings.
On base development project, numerous buildings were renovated such as the NCO Mess Hall,Kalayaan Hall, NCO Bathroom and Comfort Room and Guard Houses.
On mobility, procurement of two sea crafts and the unit was able to repair the unserviceable vehicles of the unit.
On Personnel, the Brigade was able to grant a total of 1,304 Military Commendation Medal, 298 Military Civic Action Medal and 59 Letter of Commendation; recommended 227 awards for military merit medal; 66 EP were reenlisted into the Regular Force, AFP for another term of three (3) years during his incumbency, and one Unit Cooperative was established.
On schooling, the unit was able to send two Officers and 15 EP for career advancement.
On DLO, a total of eight cases were resolved.
On Morale and Welfare 8 Officers and 89 EP were granted R&R and 16 socials were conducted, procurement and repair of the following; Basketball court , repair of billiard table, two chess boards two flat screen TV sets and table tennis, 198 jersey uniforms, 90 polo t-shirts and 250 t-shirts for the birthday celebrators and rifle experts.
With the above-mentioned accomplishments, the brigade was adjudged as the Best Brigade of 9th Infantry (Spear) Division, Philippine Army for 1st and 2nd Quarters of 2012.
Maj. General Romeo B. Calizo, Commander of 9th ID, said the commendable and outstanding performance of Col. Castro served as the hallmark of honor and prestige, thereby contributing immeasurably to the accomplishment of the 9ID mission.
“By these remarkable achievements, Col Castro earned distinct credit and honor not only for himself and for the 9th Infantry (Spear) Division but also for the whole Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he added. (BARecebido, PIA Sorsogon/9ID, PA)